What’s the Big Difference: or Why Contraception is Evil

Almost two years ago I sent this letter to the editor of the Philippine Daily Inquirer. At the time the debates on the Reproductive Health Bill in the Philippine Congress were very active.

Dear Sir:

I have heard many people say that they do not see the difference between the natural family planning method that the Catholic Church allows married couples to use and the artificial contraceptives that our government advocates. They usually say they’re the same because the result of using both methods is just the same: there is no conception. So what’s the big deal? Why does the Church allow the use of the natural method and denounce artificial contraceptives as immoral?

I have thrown back the same question to married couples. So, what’s the difference? Tell me, I have asked them, what difference would it make for you, if you used natural family planning to space births or if you used artificial contraceptives. Almost always they reply: It’s self-control. I think that makes a big difference. But still, realizing the difference does not make obvious why using contraceptives is immoral. More reflection is required.

It would be a trite statement to say that the sexual urge in men and women is a very powerful force. Being such, any person has to put it under the tutelage of his reason and his will if he does not want to get into trouble. If a person fails to do so, then this force takes over reason and will. If a person does not control his sexual urge it will control him.

Although the evil of contraception does not lie in the choice of method but in the intent against conception, however, at the root of the choice of method between natural family planning and using contraceptives is a virtue or a vice. The virtue is chastity. The vice is incontinence or licentiousness. As married couples themselves admit, those who use the natural methods (also called periodic continence) have to practice self-control. They cultivate the virtue. While those who use artificial methods need not practice self-control. And if the matter that is not controlled is the sexual urge, then the person will eventually suffer an addiction, defined as an uncontrollable compulsion to repeat a certain behavior.

The evil of using artificial contraceptives then lies in this: it fosters a vice, an addiction.

Still many people do not see anything wrong with such an addiction. Some would say: and so what if I’m addicted to the sexual urge? I think we need not stretch the argument too far if we just see that at the root of marital infidelities, broken families, broken homes, broken lives, rapes, conjugicides, psychological instabilities and many more is the lack of chastity.

And so, if our government distributes artificial contraceptives, it is as if they were distributing heroin, cocaine, shabu or any other prohibited drug that causes addiction: it would be promoting a nation without self-control. If you think it’s wrong for the government to distribute prohibited drugs, then for the same reasons it would be wrong for the government to distribute artificial contraceptives.

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